Interaction forces between ternary lipid bilayers containing cholesterol

James Kurniawan, Nai Ning Yin, Gang-yu Liu, Tonya L. Kuhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Interaction force-distance profiles between substrate-supported membranes composed of equimolar ternary mixtures of unsaturated phosphotidylcholine (PC) lipid, saturated PC lipid, and cholesterol were determined using the surface force apparatus. Both double and single unsaturated PC lipids were studied. In all cases, the membranes were slightly negatively charged, resulting in a weak, long-range electrostatic repulsion. Corroborative atomic force microscopy, zeta potential, and fluorescence microscopy measurements were used to establish that a small level of charged lipid impurities (∼1/400 lipid molecules) were responsible for the repulsive electrostatic interaction between the membranes. At contact, the membranes were adhesive. The magnitude of the adhesion was greater than the van der Waals interaction between pure PC membranes without cholesterol. The enhanced adhesion was primarily attributed to hydrophobic attraction due to the presence of nanoscopic membrane defects which exposed the underlying membrane leaflet. The interaction force-distance profiles also demonstrated that the nanoscopic defects enabled membrane restructuring in the contact region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4997-5004
Number of pages8
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 6 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


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